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tv   Key Capitol Hill Hearings  CSPAN  November 7, 2013 2:00pm-4:01pm EST

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that would be about a 1% increase which is below the population increase. so at this point, we're not seeing a surge of prisoners above the normal population increase in the >> i am glad that you raised this point. for 2013, we had a net gain of 611 inmates. although the number seems to be compared to recent years, you have to realize at the same time we processed within the overu of prisons well 70,000 inmates, and these are individuals who have to go screening for screening -- to go screening for physical, mental health, and that large number going into our system. when you look at the overall perid, thea 10-year
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611 demonstrate we are having more inmates and we are not planning to build any new presence. netore and more, it is a 600 increase, right? >> the net is 611. even with the number you're looking at 1/3 of our prisons. you have to take that 611 and we are put in a situation where we are triple ok. colleagues,ay to my the decline in federal and state incarceration rates from 1980 when i was an attorney, and the early 1990's, when senator kerry and senator thurmond, leahy, widen, grassley, hatch did the mandatory sentencing, , had theng parole
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mandatory sentencing provisions, and it was a revolution in prisons and in prosecutions. i was taught before and after states begin to follow the mandatory sentences. we have seen a decline in murder rates by 1/2. had -- worke 1970's conflict -- were constantly fearful of being the rubberized, echoes being broken into, and you have seen this substantial improvement. all i would say is there is no doubt in my mind that moving from a revolving war were people would come in and be given from ration and the released on bail for the second, third, fourth defense and tried another year later and given probation again too often, this was driving the crime rate. we achieved a lot. that is why i was willing to support and work with senator
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durbano maybe reduce -- to reduce some of the mandatory senses. i have no doubt that we can be smarter about it, but it would be naïve and a big error if we think we can just walk away from incarcerating dangerous people. you are worried for your guards. are talking about gangs in your guards. a lot of people are just dangerous, and we have to be careful about that. i think we need to watch the cost on federal prison systems. it cannot be the greatest, most expensive system in the world, which it is. he got to look for ways to got to bets and we cautious about adopting the believe that there has been new recidivism program that is going to solve the recidivism rate. if we can reduce it a little bit, i am willing to support a ood progress, but a lot of
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the programs have never resulted in the results we want to have. the recidivism program is no different than it was in the 1980's, so we are spending a lot more on it, trying to make it better, and we have not had a very successful achievement there. and finally, you and i have talked about prison industries. there's no doubt in my mind that people who work in prisons prefer it. programs who have work are safer, aren't they, mr. say mills? clearly.ta shows that >> and they have a better recidivism rate. we have got to have a breakthrough, and more prison people need to be working. the american people understand this. you have been a lot of attempts to help prisoners work, but i
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believe all of us need to look for a way to have more productive work in prisons. thank you, mr. chairman. >> thank you. thisank you for holding hearing. i appreciate senator sessions' comments. of the lowestne incarceration rates in the country, but we also have one of the lowest climb rates. thesef that is triaging cases and making sure that there is some low level response to these offenses. the length of it can be a matter of dispute, and that is part of what we are talking about here. i came to this looking at our state, with sometimes people joke, we are not just the land of 10,000 lakes, where the land of 10,000 treatment centers, but our focus on going after addiction and some of these things has made a difference. particular, our drug court.
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drug cases make up 1/3 of our hasload, and an office over a million people, and we focused a lot on drug courts. i made changes when i got in there. senator sessions would like some of them, took some of the cases out that had guns with them, more violent cases because i did not belong there. it strengthened the use of the drug court. directive of three out of every four people who graduate are arrested again, a a% success rate compared to 30% rate in a traditional system, saying taxpayers an average of $6,000 per person, and i asked attorney general holder about expanding the use of drug courts at the federal level. that is what i wanted to start with. with you, how you see this could work and how we could more
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effectively lower costs, better rehabilitate defenders, and reduce our crime rates like we see in our states? >> thank you, senator. i do agree with with the drug treatment programs. they do work. we have seen a lot of benefit just from the behavior that we are quick to witness with the inmates who participate in the program. in the bureau we have a residential rugby is program as well as the nonresidential, and we also offer rug education in all of our institutions. as far as a policy issue relative to drug courts, i am for those types of discussions. and i definitely know within the department there are many individuals who are more appropriate to have those discussions on policy issues for the department that could eventually benefit any reductions with our population
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on the front end as long as the back and. ofyou see it as a way reducing some of the numbers in the prisons? >> i believe the evidence shows that it is very possible. >> you mentioned the drug abuse program and how that has proven effective in reducing recidivism and decreasing misconduct. how many are rolled in the program -- how many are enrolled in the program? >> for every dollar we invest, there is a $2.69 savings. and the total number of individuals we have participating in residential drug abuse program treatment right now is 16,000 inmates. we would like to see that number know it ishich we very productive.
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our overall plan is to increase the number of programs we have so we can have the maximum number of inmates participating. >> what is your view on a warning inmate the time credits for participating in the intensive recidivism reduction rate program or increasing the number of opportunities for these inmates to earn these credits through programs? >> the department as well as the administration have continued to support the legislative proposals. i definitely concur in believing they are important. when you look at the additional seven days of good conduct time that can be added to an inmate's credit for time off, their sentence, because right now they are receiving 47 days, it is very beneficial to the safety of the facility and it is not where an inmate would be rewarded for not having good behavior. it helps us. for the inmates, we believe we can ultimately get a large
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number of inmates to participate in evidence-based programs to receive up to 60 days off of their term by participating in more than 180 days within a calendar year to programs that you mentioned. we believe it is beneficial and it definitely alternately helps with public safety, because the majority of inmates are going to be released and then exposed to the cognitive behavioral programs that only enhances. >> you acknowledge that tragic deaths of two federal bureau of --sons employee aries employees. we extend our somebody to their families. what do you think we can do to improve safety for prison staff on or off duty? >> what we need to improve safety of our staff, it comes issues.resource
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we are doing more with less, and the staff are proud to take on the mission because this is why they have elected to serve this country by working in corrections. but when you are dealing with large numbers on any given day throughout this country, we have one officer working in our housing units, providing oversight for 150-plus inmates. we ever recreational specialists -- we have recreation specialists to make sure that inmates are involved with recreational activity. of 500 have excell beingelss of 500 inmates supervised by one person. and you only have a small number of staff to respond, the staff are putting their lives on the line every single day. and this is why the programs are very important, and we believed
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is up to us to do what we can with the limited resources in the capacity we have to maximize the situation, to put us in the best possible situation, to effectively manage our prisons. .> thank you very much >> thank you, mr. chairman, and thank you, mr. samuels, for running a survey. as i expressed before, in my view the federal government has been for decades and acting and subsequently and forcing far too law.substantive criminal as result of that, our federal prison system is overcrowded, and it is extremely costly. as we have heard today, the bureau of prisons consumes a very significant share of the overall budget of the u.s. department of justice. using resources that might otherwise be used more effectively in other areas to enhance public safety in the united states.
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although long mandatory minimum sentences for drug offenses do not tell the whole story of the increasing overcrowded federal prison population, i think they do share a very significant part of the problem of overcrowding, and i think we have to look very closely at our current scheme of mandatory military -- minimum sentences as a result, and we had to do that to see whether incremental changes can safely and effectively be made to these sentences to reduce the federal prison population and to reduce cost while at the same time preserving if not enhancing public safety in america. the legislation i have cosponsored with senator durbin about the smarter sentencing act, s-14 10, would decrease
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mandatory minimum sentences for eight certain cap -- for certain categories of drug offenders. my first question for you is whether this type of legislation succeed, if it is passed, and helping to decrease the federal prison population over the next few years, over the decade or so following its enactment -- what would that do for you? what would that do for the bureau of prisons as far as making it easier for you to do your job, if we succeeded in reducing the overcrowding problem? >> iq, senator. i would start by i agree that reform needs to take place. the specifics of the various bills that are being considered is something that needs to be the appropriate
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individuals within the department relative to policy issues. your question, what would it do to help the bureau of prisons? any reduction within our population that ensures that there is no threat to public helps usviously effectively run our institutions. and we are not dealing with the competitive issues within the tryingion where you are to do as much as you can to stretch resources within the environment because the increase within the population, which research shows that when you continue to add more and more inmates, the propensity for s.olence increase two of your biggest concerns i would have to imagine would be prison safety, safety within the prison, safety of the prison, safety of prisoners themselves, and of your personnel and also
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the effectiveness of your .rograms to minimize recidivism i would imagine reducing the overcrowding problem would then have a positive effect on your ability to manage both of those concerns. >> yes, sir. what programs do you have in place currently to ensure that those released from prison, including those who might be released earlier than they would other wise be as a result of cheese changes, what programs do have in place to make sure that they do not present a threat to public safety once they are released? >> as i mentioned earlier, we have numerous cognitive haverhill therapy programs that we have adapted because of the research showing the types of programs are very effective. and we are constantly encouraging inmates to participate in these programs,
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and we are very successful. share with the subcommittee here to date that we really need to have some type of incentive to get more of these inmates involved in the programs. this is why i continue to support it, and i believe the sentencing credit that could be provided -- many individuals know that when they participate in this program they can get up to a year off their sentence. at the same time they're being exposed to the program, and they received a benefit which ultimately helps them with their transition from prison act into the community. if we can have an incentive to entice the other inmates within the population who do not have a substance abuse disorder, it can increase the number of inmates, and this will help public safety. >> thank you.
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>> thank you, mr. chairman. you mentioned that the average cost to incarcerate a person in $29,000,m is about almost $30,000. is there a difference in average cost in a women's residence facility? the female facilities, it depends on the numbers, but differently the average is going to be the same. >> differently -- typically? >> yes. same these women have the access to programs available to men in the mail facilities -- ma le facilities? >> yes. is a growing women population, and you said in your data, does your data perfect differences in recidivism for men and women, and you have evidence-based programs that work better for men nurses women
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in terms of success and integrating into society? i think you talked about one program that is specifically -- but can you share with me, if you do that kind of data collection, that distinguishes men and women and how they are treated and what is successful? >> for the programs we operate, we are following typically one model throughout the bureau. now we have not collected any specific data to disk english between female -- to distinguish between female and male inmates to identify whether or one particular program does not work better based on male or female. >> why is that? >> why is that? >> why do not have that kind of data? do you think there are no differences, or you just about done it? say for this
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discussion that there are no differences, but we do not have specificallyrams targeted for the female inmate population, which this would be consistent with all of corrections, not just within the federal system, but i would definitely take your question back to have discussions internally with the bureau to include my colleagues and if there's something that is being done or if you are aware of something specifically for the female inmate population cbt programs wecgb provide. >> my understanding, as a general population, women are in prison for drug crimes and not violent crimes. that is a very different profile than a dangerous felon in our system. i would ask that you take into
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consideration those kinds of -- i thinkwell as there may be some programs that will better enable women to reintegrate when they are released and would work for men. i believe that there are some states who recognize those kinds of factors and plan their reflectsin a way that that kind of understanding. i think it is very important because as more and more women -- who tend to still be the caregivers for their families that has arated -- lot of ramifications to their families, their children, reentry, all of that. >> and i have recently put together a war dens'advisory group to look at what we have done historically and focus on putting -- on those types of
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concerns your raising to make sure that if there are any a best practices were things we are moving in that direction to ensure that there is a balance on both sides. so the female inmates within our care are receiving appropriate attention and care relative to the issues you have raised. and isuse my oppressor generally there have been fewer programs for women and the , and i understand your responsibilities on the federal side. thank you very much. >> thank you, senator. thank you, mr. samuels. we appreciate you being here today. we appreciate your support for a joint legislative executive efforts going forward that the bruner of our prisons will continue to show. we would continue to call on you for information and on your staff expertise and we look forward to that relationship as we proceed. you're excused from the committee. we thank you for your testimony, and i will call up the second panel.
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[captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2013] [captioning performed by national captioning institute] i welcome our panel. ssi is from iowa. the ricky member has asked that the professor testifies first so they can hear their constituent's testimony first. we will go out of the usual and begin with the professor. let me first ask of the witnesses and to affirm the testimony before the committee will be the whole truth? >> [indiscernible] >> thank you, and please be seated. the professor is a professor and
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coordinator of criminal justice studies with the center for the study of violence at iowa state university. he is the editor in chief of a journal and has received a fellow award from the capital of sciences, andce would you like to make any further recognition of the professor? >> you said it all, but i do say welcome to you. >> please proceed and then we go to the director and down the line. >> thank you for this opportunity. although reducing the costs of the op is important, the policy recommendations neglect the anti-sociology of criminal defenders and recidivism that would result from a large scale release. the majority of the testimony attests to the anti-sociology behavior risks noted by the model federal prisoner with
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estimates of additional crimes that could result from the policy recommendations. the report from bits the notion drug offenders are in a chris and their behavior is limited to drug sales and use. and all offenders criminal offenders to be versatile in their offending behaviors. a person sentenced for drug crimes is also likely that property crimes, violent crimes, nuisance crimes, traffic violations them and assorted violations in the criminal justice system. as in a discussion of drug offenders should also be understood that next week they are likely to the property defenders -- offenders. recent research using a variety of samples indicated that drug use is one of the prime drivers of overall criminal activity. analytic research indicates drug isenders offending rates three or four times of those who do not have drug problems, and goes far beyond
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drug offending. regarding safety, current law permits judges to wait mandatory minimums agencies for per son with no criminal history. the policy is adequate to avoid inadequate confinement of low risk offenders. entire paradigm demonstrate continuity and antisocial behavior from childhood to adulthood. theop -- 25% of the offenders are adding members. -- our gang members. prison is an important interruption of their criminal careers, but the preponderance of offenders will continue to commit offenses upon release. releasing these types of offenders could likely produce more crime. research has shown a one
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preserve production in the population is associated with a 15 part one index crime increase her year. releasing one percent of the current population would result in approximately 32,850 additional crimes. an independent study by other researchers arrived at the estimate that one preserve reduction increases crime by 17 offenses per year. same example,e releasing one percent of the current population would result in 37,230 additional offenses. the safety valves one recognition of the urban institute proposal to release 2000 offenders based on these estimates would produce a range 34,000 index crime scene. in terms of safety valve recognition to, the proposal "ns the creation to apply beyond drug offenders with minimal christer is -- minimal
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criminal histories, armed career criminals, chopper biography offenders, and identity theft offenders." the release of these matters could the disastrous to probably safety. -- to public safety. expanded incentivize programming estimates, using the same data, proposal to potentially release 36,000 inmates over the next 10 years will produce an estimated -- to 612,0000to new index crimes. the report contains no mention of the various conditions relating to criminal propensity
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of criminal -- a federal offenders. -- prevalence of sight- -- is one of the most pernicious conditions and one of the most robust predictors of recidivism. the release would includes the release of hundreds of thousands of clinically psychopathic offenders. another important construct is sexual statism. even after decades of confinement, offenders who are sexually sadistic pose a significant risk to the community as exemplified by a current inmate who was sentenced to death in 2003 after serving 4 century for 1/ prior convictions. these conditions are not limited to homicide offenders and sex offenders, but found in offenders convicted of other crimes. you were trying to keep our
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testimony to five minutes per witness. if you could sum up. point and i have some questions in the testimony -- >> your testimony will be in the record. >> the problem is one that congress created. i would also add that corollary benefit of that legislation was the reduction of crime by increased use of confinement. >> thank you very much, professor. let me now introduce john wetzel, the director of christians for the state of pennsylvania, but the nomenclature is different in its own name. he is the secretary of the pennsylvania department of corrections. he oversees all functions relating to the pennsylvania department of corrections operations, budgeting, personnel, and training. he began his corrections career in 1989 at an officer at 11 county correctional facility. he served as an officer, treatment counselor, supervisor, training academy director, and
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as warden of the french and county jail. he is a member of the american fractional association and the american jail association and a past president of the pennsylvania county corrections association and had very nice things to -say about- as we said hello at the beginning. please proceed. >> thank you very much, thanks for the opportunity to talk about pennsylvania and the experience we have had in addressing many of the same problems you all face in the federal system. specifically, when governor tom was elected, he was the attorney general. before that he was a federal prosecutor. he has a unique perspective. hand view of first- the corrections system, and what he saw the 24 years before we took over was an average growth of 5000 inmates a month. nearly three years ago, we have 51,000 inmates, and that was a consistent growth
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over republican and democratic administrations. the one charge and he gave me when we took over was not to to reduceulation, not spending, although both of those things are a priority. the main priority was to improve outcomes and improve our correction system and take the give that we need to get a better return on our investment for what you are spending in corrections. how do we do that? for, and received grants to go to the justices reinvestment process, and went through a process that was aided driven. the governor was a hard sell. it takes the perspective of many folks on the panel in that we are very concerned, the bottom line for us is always going to become crime rate and public safety. to be data-ss had driven. we gather data through this
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process, and the most important part of this process is that it was a process in that was participatory, the head stakeholders as part of the group that looked at the policy options. what the drivers were, and identify policy options looking nationally and internationally at policy options that seemed to work for other jurisdictions. build consensus, a key part of the process, where we had the aclu and the conservative ink tank sitting there having discussions and coming to agreement on how we can better outcomes. some of the focus needs to be on what the root cause of the crime is. it is easy in this field to paint with broad brushes and say we do not want to open the back door and let a bunch of people run out because that will have a negative effect on public s afety. what we agree with is what we want out of the justices is when somebody becomes criminally involved, and they come out the
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back end of our system, what we want them to be is less likely to become criminally involved again. we can all agree with that. there's enough research out there that tells us that when we make good decisions from the friend of the system -- front end of the system who needs to be incarcerated, and more specifically what the root causes of the crime is, so violent offenders among murderers, rapists are different , and we cannot paint with the same brush as someone who the root causes of the crime is addiction. it does not matter how long we lock and had a cup. it does not matter how long we lock an addict up. we got policy options that were legislative, and in six months, that passed unanimously in the house and senate, which was miraculous in pennsylvania, and we came up with policy options. what those options resulted in was under our 2 1/2 years we
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have average a decline of 70 inmates a year out of 51,000. you look at a consistent if dean hundred inmate growth a year, eliminated that. we have been able to close a couple persons and get more people into programming, and that has been the key. our policy options started at the front end, identified groups who were not appropriate ever come to a state prison. then we looked at funding risk based sensing, so the commission in pennsylvania is building a sentencing tool so the judge has risk information, not just a presentence investigation, but risk -- what is the risk for this offender, and a factored into the sentencing. we looked within the department of corrections had areas we were not doing good. waiting lists for programs, how can we better deliver programs, and part of that was making sure we are only putting people in the programs. in the back end of our system we put a lot of focus on. the community criticisms, we put
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110 million dollars in it. we saw 95% of those programs were not effective. we restructured the programs and we decided to put a performance measure on the contract, so the contractors are paid based on their ability to impact recidivism. this process was a good process, and have the same time our crime rate went down. crime weight in pennsylvania continues to go down. thank you. >> that is a terrific story. thank you very much. witness is representative john tilley who represents the eight district of kentucky in the kentucky general assembly. assemblyrved in that since january 2007, and he is that chair of the house judiciary committee where he has been the chair since 2009. in that role he worked with other state leaders to form a bipartisan, multi branched task force with the goal of enhancing
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public safety, controlling correction costs, and increasing recidivism. he is currently the vice chair of the national conference of state legislatures, committee on justice and the judiciary. prosecutor, prior to turning the legislature, serving for six years as christian county's assistant cap interna, and we're delighted he's here today. thank you. please proceed. >> thank you. story assimilar pennsylvania's. i can say with confidence as well as a former prosecutor, members, that we can have it all in one sense. we can have better public safety at less cost with less crime and less citizens as him -- and less ricidivism. i will tell you it was no honor when the future will trust in their project made us the poster child for prison growth in 2008. they released a report called
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one in 100, which did for the proposition that one in 100 adults in this country were behind bars. in kentucky that rate was one in 92. as an aside, there were one and 31 adults under some form of correctional control. it is a stunningly high. i think it should hit all of us. in the decade ending doesn't think about the growth rate was almost quadrupled the national average. we were at 45% of the rest of the country. to put that even in greater context, let me tell you that we comprise up to five percent of the world possible relation, but we house 25% of the world cost visitors. the techie was the epicenter of prison growth for the country. did all that translate come all that record spending and record incarceration translate into better public safety? less crime, less personas of them -- less recidivism?
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in kentucky, it did not. all that spinning -- spending amounted to very little. recidivism remained above the national average. our crime rate had always been relatively flat. the crime rate has been dropping for sometime, but we only enjoyed about 1/3 of that job. we were about six percent of the previous decade are sunday. rest of the country was 19%. he remained flat as well, and her sister state to the south must, to the sea, their crime rate at again, we are one of the safer states in the country and now they remain one of the more high crime states and their prison growth is exploding. in response we have formed a multi-branch bipartisan task force, a small task force, seven members. we received support from the business community, retail federation's kentucky chamber of commerce. we received support from all manner of stakeholders in this effort. what he found was this -- that
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our prison growth rate was being driven not by crime, but by the number of arrests, in court cases, drug offenses, rising incarceration rates were technical will violators, and a low level offenders were driving this population. in kentucky they were far more likely to go to prison than any state. to 41%d that to be a 57% number there. in a bipartisan way, a bill passed in the house and in the senate. the goal is better public safety, less costs, getting smarter on crime. i do not have time to tell you yout that, but let me tell and i want to stick my time, vocus amherst experts of prison beds on the most serious offenders, find alternatives for the nonviolent drug offenders, which we done, and use those
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savings to expand treatment opportunities and supervision opportunities for a number of our low level offenders who are driving a population. we have strengthened probation and parole. we have seen a stunning results from pretrial alone with not having to detain so many low- level misdemeanors. has increased our public safety rate. they show up the court at a greater rate even though they are not being house. counties are saving millions. we have modernized our drug code which is been a focus today from a number of voices. we have deferred prosecution, a possibility which must be prosecutor approved for low vel drug offenses. prosecutor-driven things. not one felony has been reclassified to a misdemeanor in our negotiations to come up with a way to approach this.
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we reinvested the savings which of the millions into increased drug treatment. i will get to how much we have in that in a minute. let me tell you we have cheesed -- we have achieved remarkable results. we now have fewer prisoners at lower cost. one benchmark, if you must go, we were at 3500 less out of a 20,000. we were supposed with 24,000. as the secretary said we are below that average him and about 3500 fewer. we have less recidivism for the first time in a decade. we have dropped five percentage points. we have a 500% increase in drug abuse capacity, drug treatment capacity. chairman, member of the kitty, we have a lot of work ahead of us. we invite you to learn more. >> thank you very much. i appreciate being here, and it is a remarkable success story. our next witness is nancy levine
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about the director of the justice policy center at the urban institute where she oversees a portfolio of projects related to crime and public safety. prior, she was the founding director of the crime mapping research center at the national institute of justice. she has written on a variety of , including crime prevention and the spatial analysis of crime. dr., welcome? >> thank you, mr. chairman. it is a pleasure to be here. i revisit the urban institute. we are nonprofit, on partisan research organization. you do not engage in advocacy. rather, our ambition -- our mission is to bring facts and data and research to bear on present topics like the one we are here to discuss today. it is in that spirit that about a year ago we set out to chronicle the drivers of the federal prison population and its growth over time and to
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project the impact of various policies that were on the table to reverse that growth. much in the way that we heard in the models of the states in pennsylvania and kentucky, a similar justice reinvestment model of identifying drivers of growth. we also looked at the degree of overcrowding. members have already documented that. the overcrowding is tremendous. thes at great risk to safety of both staff and inmates. importantly, from where reset and the research we have done, looking at the impact of programs designed to prevent recidivism, the crowding in the federal system creates tremendous challenges for delivering for grants and treatment that is so necessary to support successful reintegration of federal offenders will when they exit on of what we.
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know from our own research that we've conducted to development of the what works in reentry -- clearinghouse, the research on the types of programs, and what we learned is there are programs that work. there are many programs that work across a whole host of types of reentry interventions. from substance abuse treatment to employment, education programs, vocational programs am a mental health treatment, programs to support family visitation, and each one of those categories we have identified one if not several of impactful programs that research says worked. within the federal bureau of prisons, a program has been researched and found to be effective, as has prison industries. there is a lot of opportunities to provide programming and help
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support public safety, but those are limited by the crowded prison environment in the federal system as well as limited resources with which to dedicate to offer such programs. there are many solutions on the table. the solutions were not developed by the urban institute. they were developed by various congressional staffers and partnership -- in partnership with members, and include legislative proposals that are sponsored i members of this committee. what we set out to do was to analyze how these different proposals would yield impact on both the prison population and on cost. when we looked at those projections, we were very conservative in our estimates. we were conservative in that we were fiscally conservative. we chose to use the marginal cost of prison rather than the average cost. i can explain more about the importance of that later. we thought it was best to be conservative, so some of the estimates are actually lower than others who were trying to
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project the impact of these various policies. similarly, and importantly, our estimates were conservative with regard to how we perceive them being enacted on the ground. and we firmly believe that judges and that bop will adjust as extreme caution in discerning who should benefit from these programs, and most of these's look at risk levels, something that was critical in the work that states have done, risk assessments being very important in determining who really needs to be in prison and who could be subject to early release policies. for that reason, also, our estimates may be lower in terms of attentional cost savings than you might hear from other people. at any rate, you know from our whole that we have set a host of different policy changes. we know reducing mandatory minimums and giving judges discretion to deviate from
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mandatory minimums could save literally billions of dollars. we know current time credits for program participation can not only relieve crowding in the short run, but also provides incentives for inmates to take part in programs that are in the interest of public safety. we have heard examples from the states and not just those represented here, but we know of others, texas, afterlife, new york, and have engaged in sweeping reforms and have a deucet growth through their populations. i think this is a moment of tremendous opportunity, and i thank you for your leadership on it. t ofe hope is the momen tremendous opportunity. i think there were two -- i thank the urban institute for that. welcome the former assistance attorney -- assistant attorney general where he
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oversaw all activities relating to initiative such as pro ject-safe neighborhoods. prior to his service, he talked 30 years at the university of massachusetts amherst and he is welcome here today. these proceed. >> thank you. report, the urban institute observes that federal population has escalated to over 219,000 today. has comees this growth at great expense to taxpayers and other fiscal priorities. i cannot agree more with this report on the problems of fiscal austerity confronting public safety budgets. i believe we need to be very careful not to oversimplify the trade-offs in public safety that we need to consider in order to make the decisions and as a result may offer cost shifting instead of true cost shavings.
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-- savings. the more conference of view would cast the issue differently. we need to reduce not the cost of incarceration, or indeed the criminal justice system, but rather the total social cost of crime, including not only expenditures on public safety, but also the cost of victimization. and as we seek to do this, the allocation of funds among components of the system should be guided by their demonstrated effectiveness in reducing crime, not they are absolute or relative size compared other components of the system. look all too tempting to at congressional system, state and federal, as a piggy bank him or he serves us they -- or as a source of savings. cbs aired a segment last sunday morning entitled the cost of a nation incarceration. the petition of the program was that the united states incarcerates too many people at too high a cost.
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how large and costly is the prison population? according to the bureau of u.s. justice statistics, 1,598,780 adults were incarcerated in u.s. federal and state prisons and the end of at 2011 thousand 11, a decrease of over two o2010. declinedon rate has since to 11 seven when there were 506 persons in prison per 100,000 u.s. residents. the rate in 2011 was comparable to the rate last observed in 2005, which was 492 persons for 100,000 population. given that population and a pernt speculated average inmate cost of incarceration at 31,200 $86, we could estimate the total cost of incarceration -- aswide in 2011 as 52
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$50.2 billion. is it disproportionate in relative terms? understand that we have to bring into the calculation, what did we get in return for that $50.2 billion? as some have testified previously and noted, and some of the members of the committee have noted, according to the fbi 's uniform crime report, between 1960 and 1990s to the number of violent crimes in the united states increased nearly sevenfold from a 288,000 to more than 1.9 million. the violent crime rate increased point fivefold from 160 -- but then the crime rate began to decrease. it decreased for nearly a decade. and plateaued until two years ago, when it started to pick up. scholars who have looked at this
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decline and tried to give a reason for its art -- and a reason for it has noted that incarceration and increased in incarceration in the united states played a very large move -- role in this particular decline. what we got for our $50.2 billion investment was a titlese in crime that its is underestimated because it does not include psychic cost of $180 billion per year. i leave it to you to judge whether a $50 billion investment will get you $180 billion return is a good idea or not. this is not meant to suggest that nothing can be done to you with the current fiscal problems affecting the criminal justice system probably in federal prison system, but rather to counsel caution in dealing with andpting claims of cheap
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highly effective alternatives to federal incarceration. we need to do four things. first, we need to understand unique characteristics of the federal prison system, and they are quite different from the state prison systems. second, we need to evaluate the effectiveness of interventions meant to reduce citizen. third, we need to make use of the literature on predicting criminality and also identifying markers of its onset, and finally, we need to hold tenaciously to our actions to reduce the total social cost of crime to the merely practice of shifting them to others. >> thank you, dr. sedgwick. with secretary wetzel. your are an observer from the outside of the federal euro of prisons. it is your corrections is your
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lifelong profession. you have been very successful in , and you are showing not only bipartisanship, but unanimity and then success in the reform effort. what would you take out a pennsylvania's experience and apply as lessons that would be helpful for the federal bureau of prisons? are there critical difference is that we need to acknowledge? what are they? are there similarities? what are they? what are the successes that you would apply to the federal colleagues? >> from the process standpoint, we were able to have people r or d at the door and become part of the process, and we set a goal and acknowledged goal and put all the partisan stuff aside. that is the first and foremost.
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understand we all want the same thing, with outcomes. and then i think really understanding the dynamics of the population. certainly, the federal population is arguably different from the state operation, but it is very important to accurately identify and build consensus and what group we are comfortable doing with in another manner. and then specifically, as we split these different groups out, then look at how we likely to get the best outcome. you are not going to that a thousand on this, but where are we going to get the best outcome oin this. business as usual was not acceptable, and nobody can make the argument that we were happy with return on investment we were getting for corrections.
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by this intent that we certainly did not want to open up the back door and have an increase in crime because we are trying to do what is expedient. i was not the approach at all. i think if you focus on how we are likely to reduce crime and not necessarily focus on the dollars -- we did not necessarily focus on the dollars. we focus on how we were going to get better outcomes, and a byproduct of that is a reduction of population. it was a natural byproduct then the goal was to -- if you take that approach and not say our goal is reduce spending by x amount, but to get better outcomes and identify folks that canan a delphi -- that we do within a different manner, that is the best way to move forward. >> when you talk about identifying folks, what are the sorts of categories you looking out? gender, drug history, late term -- what are some of the group should pick of the
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opposition and to improve the focus and out did you define those? >> we did not talk about violent versus nonviolent. as many people pointed out, by the time someone came to the permanent corrections, he had an average of eight arrests. nobody gets walked up for jaywalking in harrisburg. that is not why they're there. we do not put the figures on that. we put the focus on actuarial risk. risk look at actuarial tools that allow us to predict future crimes and future recidivism. and to try to make to the extent possible good individual decisions and give judges the tools that they have all the information to make those individual decisions. >> you were dialing into the presentence report for judges? >> yes. under the rendell administration, they passed this sentencing told that was opposed to be developed by the sentencing commission.
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it was not funded. through our initiative we were able to find that so we can give judges actuarial information and sending -- at sentencing. where did you get the actuarial information? >> we had information, and commission is a group who charge -- who is in charge of taking that permission and developing a tool -- >> getting information out of the tracking information on your own intimates, essentially? >> the sentencing commission, the courts, the different agencies, pulled all those together, get the information together, pull together a tool, tested, and then roll it out across the state. >> ok, thanks. >> thank you. >> can you pick out what kentucky has done, any particularly successful elements that you would commend to us as areas of focus?
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>> there are number of measures on the front and at and that are translatable to the federal system. i'm no expert on the federal euro, but we are talking about folks -- seems toll you that it me and will rule in an war in june imagine. perlhose who don't achieve we are releasing them into a controlled environment so we can focus on that all-important six months. as experts tell us and has been validated through science, if catch the offender in the first six months of reentry, you can achieve a more
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successful reentry and lower recidivism. that is the goal. about 95% of all our offenders were going to come back to the community. in that community, taxpayers and constituents deserve our best effort at making sure that offender does not reoffend. i think that is important and very translatable. there's a number of things we can do and are already doing. rather than sending technical parole violators back, we were sending them back for longer than their original sentence, and that was not serving anyone. what we are doing now, similar to hawaii, we are made -- mimicking that in kentucky. >> i'm familiar with his work. >> i googled that, sir. has been theience same, that making parole violation responses swifter, more certain, more immediate,
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even if less impactful in terms of how long they take out of the probationer's life, you get a better result from -- you can have a smaller reaction if it is quicker and more certain to probation violations. >> absolutely. at the state level, there was a weight level before the offender new whether or not -- wait level newore the offender k whether or not they would be sent back to prison. hopefully, we can mimic the success they have had in hawaii. the remarkable success and unexpected success we have had with low-level offenders and misdemeanor once -- m isdemeanants. we are using science and risk assessment to figure out who presents the most risk and who the released fire to adjudication or who needs to -- prior to
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adjudication or who needs to stay in. -- chosen not by the legislature, but the court system has chosen it. in kentucky, we have, like d.c., maybe the only true unified pretrial system in the country, state run and state driven. we have seen an increased public safety rate. fewer offenses on release. they are showing up to court at a greater rate. theme sending our counties -- we are saving our counties millions. trialmany offenders await , it also presumes -- saves the assumption of innocent until proven guilty. that is important as well. as a statey, representative and as the chairman of your state's
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judiciary committee, you have responsibilities to a wide array of stakeholders and constituents and parts of your community. i can remember going around rhode island with director wall with a map that showed where people went when they left the build correctional institution, and went back into the community -- adults andectional institution, went back into the community. there were impact-free areas and there were other communities that were receiving an avalanche of people coming out of the prison system. you talk about reentry, did you consider not just reentry from the individual offenders point of view -- offender's point of view, but also what it means to the surrounding the ones, particularly
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that are very heavily impacted by high returns from the put -- the prison population? >> absolutely. we talked a lot about what has been referred to as community supervision. in a sense that you want to direct that offender closer to their community and help them reintegrate. when you modify behavior in one setting, for instance the prison, and they return to their home, they immediately return to that behavior without certain controls and certain but have behaviorertain modification strategies and lace. we do have that kind of community supervision in place. we are trying to redirect some of the savings to those communities so that we are not having to find new dollars to pay for this increase in community supervision. it is clearly less expensive. we can monitor it so many ways. with reentry supervision, we have several minimum conditions.
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minimumover 10 conditions. with technology, we can monitor in so many ways. it is much less expensive and more effective than what it costs in kentucky. in kentucky to incarcerate an inmate for a year. decreasing recidivism and successful reentry -- your communities again to buy in as well. i know mine has. >> i forgot to ask, secretary wetzel, what is your experience of overcrowding in pennsylvania prisons, the ones you supervise and manage? >> we are about 109% capacity. thechallenge really becomes decisions on the ground, the decisions with who you put in a cell together. weyou look at the numbers as become more crowded, i'm not sure that the overall number of misconducts would skyrocket, but
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i would guess that the severity and some of the in-cell violence -- as the same time crowding occurred, we got better at our practices, more technology, more cameras, but those in-cell decisions -- the second area really impacted by overcrowding would be segregation. historically, without crowding, you rarely double segregation cells. we are like motel 6 -- the light is always on. to have to find someplace put somebody. sometimes, you make decisions and putting people together that you would rather not have to make as a specific result of crowding. >> but it is your experience as a practitioner that other things being equal, higher overcrowding will have a tendency to increase violence and risk within the population? >> absolutely. especially if the staffing does not increase at the same scope
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as the inmates.. >> at a minimum, it would require additional cost. >> yes. >> any suggestions you would highlight that you think would have particular effect for the bureau of prisons? i already stated, the proposals in our report aren't institute's proposals. what we set out to do is to project the impact of these various proposals on populations and costs. >> which ones would you highlight for us? >> i will highlight any number of them that you are interested in. the ones represented in the smarter sentencing act, for example, reduces mandatory minimums in three ways. it cuts the mandatory minimums for certain types of drug offenders virtually in half. couldlone, we predict,
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reduce overcrowding by 20% in 10 years and save over $2 billion. it also reduces mandatory minimums by extending the safety valve to criminal history 2 categories. that gives for judicial discretion to deviate from mandatory minimums. as i referenced in my formal oftement, there is a lot restrictions to our projections. we don't assume that this means that everybody with a criminal history category 2 is going to be subject to reduced sentences. there's a lot of judicial discretion involved. our own assumptions assume that a lot of offenders will not be subject to that because of their risk levels and their criminal history. regardless, we find that alone would reduce overcrowding by 46% in 10 years. $546 million .
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and there is retroactivity which would save tremendous volume come to the tune of $229 -- $229e, to the tune of million. even that is conservative on our part. we assumed 10% of those who could be subject to the crack retroactivity in the fair sentencing act proposal would not because they pose too high a risk to society based on their in-prison behavior. >> tank you very much. very much.u as i understand your testimony, if i could restate it in a single sentence, it would be that you are warning us against either sweeping or overbroad measures that might create a public safety cost outside the prison system that more than
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offset any savings within the prison system. but you accept that this is done -- if this is done in the right way, the smart way, there is opportunity here to both improve public safety and lower corrections cost? >> i think you summarized it beautifully. one of the bugaboos that i have is that we very often talk about these complex issues and treat offenders either as generic, like they are all the same, or we treat them as dichotomous and say there are the violent ones and the nonviolent ones. and if you know the research on, for example, career history -- career criminals and career criminals with specialization, there is a subset of the offender population that are purely property offenders and never commit a violent offense. but among violent offenders, they have a mix of property offenses and violent offenses and their history, as professor
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-- in theironed history, as professor delisi mentioned. we need to be much more granular and much more careful about this. >> let me ask representative tilliey and secretary wetzel. are you comfortable that the tools you have used meet those concerns? >> yes. >> so, it's doable? >> i would concur. >> very good. i ask unanimous consent, which i will achieve since i am the last one here -- [laughter] that two articles be added to the record. one is a "new york times" article or opinion piece, rethinking crimes -- life behind bars." the other is by our corrections
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director. the record of this hearing will remain open for one additional week for any further questions or testimony that anybody wishes to offer. let me once again thank each of the witnesses for coming and lending your expertise and, in the case of chairman tilley and secretary wetzel, you're very long and well-earned personal veryience in this -- your long and well-earned personal experience in this area. i think that what you've done politically to make these changes happening your home states is very impressive. by one inyou missed getting unanimity the way pennsylvania did. unanimity by all but one vote is pretty darned impressive. obviously a lot of careful work went into the kind of product that could both be unanimous and impactful. you can do unanimous all day long if you end up with no
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results. but doing something that really makes change and getting the kind of political support at home that makes it unanimous in the legislature is a very significant achievement. i'm delighted you both had the opportunity and the ability to come here today. i thank you very much for being here, all the witnesses. it was extremely helpful. to the urban institute, we look forward to continuing to working with you. thank you for the report. with that, we are adjourned. [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2013] [captioning performed by national captioning institute] news out of the u.s. senate this afternoon where lawmakers have approved a bill outlawing workplace discrimination against gay, bisexual, and transgender americans. the associated press reporting the vote reflected the nation's rapidly evolving attitude toward gay rights nearly two decades after congress rejected same-sex marriage.
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measure's chances in the house are dim. house speaker john boehner calls the shots, and he opposes the bill. president obama released a statement and said, "in part, today's victory is a tribute -- we will have live coverage of governor perry's comments beginning at 8:00 eastern. " is des moines register covering this event. there will be a campaign style style trip.mpaign- by americans for prosperity, a national conservative group that advocates for limited government
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and free markets. candidate,12 considering a run for 2016, is making his first appearance since the last election cycle. we will have that beginning at 8:00 p.m. eastern on c-span. called thee is now mercedes-benz superdome in new orleans, where the new orleans -- where new orleans place. it was built at entirely public expense after hurricane katrina. when it hosted football games again, it was a national feel- good story, and rightly, i would say so. the public paid for all of the repairs. the leak put in a token amount -- the league put in a token amount. the man who owns the new orleans saints keeps almost all of the revenue generated there. why don't people rebel against this? many people in the public don't understand this is taking place.
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the second reason is they feel there is nothing they can do about it, it is all based on insider deals, and it is largely based on insider deals. there was a vote in miami last year on whether to use public money to renovate the place where the miami dolphins play. the citizens of miami voted strongly against that because they got to vote on it. >> more with sports author -- "the king of sports" author sunday on "q&a." >> one of the things that has stuck in my mind is how dallas has changed from the political standpoint. at that time in the early 1960s and late 50s, there was probably a much less balance or lyrical climate -- balanced political climate here. i remember seeing publication -- a publication in one of the two
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papers, i forget which one, somebody had bought a full-page ad the day before president kennedy came, with president kennedy's picture on it. it said "wanted for treason." when arlen specter came down here, six months after the after it was over with, he came out in the hall. he was quizzing me about the entrance wound. said, i want to tell you. we have people who will testify they saw him shot from the overpass. we do not believe they are credible witnesses. i don't want you saying anything about it. the 50th anniversary of president kennedy's assassination, eyewitness accounts from two of the doctors who treated both kennedy and lee harvey also while.
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part of american history tv this weekend on c-span3. servicesd human secretary kathleen civilian is returned to capitol hill yesterday for questions from senators on the finance committee -- kathleen civilian sebelius returned to capitol hill yesterday for questions from senators on the finance committee. this is about 2 1/2 hours. [no audio] [no audio]
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>> we will come to order. in february, 1958, against the backdrop of a divided nation , a junior senator from massachusetts spoke at a college in baltimore. the young senator, named john kennedy, said -- let us not despair the act. let us not seek the republican answer or the democratic answer, but the right answer. let us not seek to fix the blame for the past, let us accept our own responsibility for the future. ". more than 55 years later, jfk's advice reigns true. it is important to remember now as we implement the affordable care act. five weeks ago the end -- the administration launched www.c-
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launched it was to be the premier website for the affordable care act. needless to say, it has been a rocky rollout. problems have plagued the website. let me say right off the bat that this is unacceptable. it has been disappointing to your members of the administration say that they did not see the problems coming. secretary sibelius, last time you came before this committee i used to year -- two words about -- two words to relate my worry over the law's implementation. make no mistake, i believe in this law. i spent two years of my life working on the affordable care act, there is nothing i want more to succeed.
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months ago i warned that if implementation did not improve, the marketplace might struggle. other senators voiced similar concerns. when we asked for updates on the market places, the responses we got were completely unsatisfactory. we were told multiple times that everything was on track. we now know that that was not the case. now it is time to move forward. madam secretary, you deserve credit for coming before the american people in accepting the responsibility of the websites problems. the focus is where it should be, on the future. it is clear to me that you're working as hard as you can to fix keep that it. when this law was created we made a promise to the american people. a promise to fix a broken system . a promise to ensure that all americans have access to quality, affordable health care,
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we made a promise to make sure that no one ever went broke just because they got sick. you must make good on that promise. some people have called for your resignation. we cannot fix the blame for the past. you need to stay at hhs and help get the marketplace working. recently you said you expected the website to be running smoothly for the majority of users by late november. there is no room for error. you must beat, and i say beat, that deadline. why? these marketplaces open the door to quality health insurance for millions of americans. 7 million americans will get insurance for marketplaces and 2014 according to projections. 10 years in, that number will grow to 24 million. there is no question that that cannot happen unless the marketplace runs at full speed.
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i believe that you will fix the problems because you know how critical the marketplaces are. for the first time ever consumers having guaranteed access to high-quality insurance. consumers will never be forced into bargain basement plans or refused coverage of cases like childbirth or cancer treatment. they will never be denied coverage because of pre-existing conditions or cut off because they hit an annual or lifetime limit. we already have concrete examples of how the marketplaces are helping real people. consider these stories from the letters i have received from october 1. gary, from billings, montana, said that the monthly premium he pays for his family of four is just over $2000 but thanks to the affordable care act for next year it will be 1160 five dollars, saving $800 each month. allison in wolf point, montana, wrote to say that thanks to the act she will have access to
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affordable insurance for the first time in almost 20 years. she suffered an injury in college and because of that pre- existing condition the cost of insurance was prohibitive. instead she rationed visits to the adapter and cut back on the outdoor activities that make montana so great. no skiing, hiking, horseback riding, but now she will have access to high-quality insurance that she can afford. tony, a small business lawyer from bozeman, montana, wrote in to express his excitement on how it will save his small business $10,000 each year. he wrote -- as a small business owner, i can emphatically state that the affordable care act is not only good for my business, it is the only way that i can continue to provide to give health insurance to my family and employees. the staffing, training, the hard things that is business needs to stay competitive, he added it is good for his company, himself,
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his employers and family. a pretty impressive list. i have no doubt that stories like these will keep coming in in the weeks and months ahead. madam secretary, i was glad to hear you set a target rate for to be fully operational. i look forward to hearing you plan to meet that goal. shedding light on where things stand, what the administration is doing to correct his problems as they -- and if there is a role for congress to help, we want to be there. that is what matters right now. as resident kennedy said, let us not despair, but act. let's not seek the democratic or republican answer, but the right answer, let's get this done.
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>> thank you, mr. chairman. thank you for scheduling today's hearing. thank you, secretary sabia lias, for being here today. it has been six months since he last appeared before the committee. given everything that has gone on since that time, particularly regarding the implementation of obamacare, i would say that today's appearance is long past due. in april you assured us that the implementation was on track and that all was going smoothly and that the exchanges would be ready to go by october 1. it now appears that your statements from the previous hearings were at best misinformed. from where i sit, things do not seem to be going smoothly at all. i think we would all agree that the best part of the implementation of the so-called affordable care act has been an absolute debacle. you admitted as much last week when you testified before house energy and commerce committee when you said -- hold me accountable for the debacle, i
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am responsible. while i am glad that you are accepting the sponsor ability for this disastrous rollout, i would have preferred to you in the administration were honest with us to begin with. perhaps he really did believe that things were on track in april, but you must have had several indications before october 1 that there were problems with the website and the exchanges. it is simply inexcusable that the members of this committee were not told earlier that these problems were occurring. it was not for want of asking. i personally sent you a number of letters asking for details on the information and implementation of the health care law. many of which were ignored entirely. the attitude toward the senate committee with the jurisdiction over your agency is to -- has simply been appalling and needs to be rectified. if the past month has been any indication, there are likely to be numerous additional problems ahead.
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that being the case, it is only proper that you provide us with more regular updates on the issues with which you are dealing. in fact, i would ask that you come here once per month for the next six months to advise this committee with status up its on the implementation of obamacare and i hope you will agree to do so. like i said, madam secretary, it is clear the problems you encountered so far were not on for scene. two separate problems, one from the government accountability office in june, another from the department of health and human service inspector general in august identified challenges months ahead of the october 1 deadline. yet there is no indication that the warnings from these nonpartisan government watchdogs were heated by the administration or that any thought was given to delaying the start up as a result. on april 1 i raise concerns about whether adequate that --
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adequate testing was occurring to ensure that privacy controls were in place with the exchanges. in fact i specifically asked you about having an independent entity review the entire system before it went live to make sure that all the appropriate privacy and security controls were in place. you assured me that all testing protocols were being followed and that privacy issues were a high priority. however, we now know that no end to end testing of the system occurred before the system went live. none. in fact he officials knew on september 27 that there was a high security risk to the system if it went on as planned. my colleagues and i sent several letters since the spring asking for more information. what privacy controls are being implemented as part of the exchange infrastructure? we asked for details about
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whether or not testing was being done to address the privacy and security concerns we had raised. to date we have not received any answers to those questions. so, not only can millions of americans not log into the website successfully, but those who have actually succeeded could now find themselves at the mercy of identity thieves across the globe. i would call this a less than ideal situation for our constituents. bringing us to another set of issues that i hope you will be able to shed some light on later today. let me start with a simple premise. words matter. we have all heard the golden saying that honesty is the best policy. unfortunately this wisdom does not seem to apply to the obamacare pledges. more and more promises made at this time -- or made at the time that this law was passed are currently proving to not be reality on a daily basis. that health care reform would
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reduce costs by $2500 for the average family. the truth is with all the new mandates going into effect, the cost of health insurance in this country is projected to rise at remarkable rate. some studies, including one from the manhattan institute, estimated that individual premiums will increase by 99% for females -- 99% for males and 62% for women nationwide. and then obama saying that if you could -- if you like your health care and like your doctor, you could keep it, this has proven to be simply untrue. this is why "the washington post ," gave him for pinocchio's. this represents the highest level of untruthfulness. you really have to try hard to get for pinocchio's. you do not simply get it for making a misstatement.
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it was not until the last few weeks that people in the administration and the white house started trying to be right with the president said. let's be candid. it was not a new honest streak that change their tone, it was the fact that americans started receiving cancellation notices from their insurers. according to the associated press, 3.5 million people have received these notices so far. put simply, there is a long track record of broken promises to this committee and the american people with respect to how this law should or would work and the impact it would have. i hope that that will stop today. no more caveats, no more excuses , just give us the truth. answers like we don't know and we were wrong are perfectly acceptable as long as that is the truth. i want to thank you again, mr.
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chairman, for holding this hearing. as you can see, we have a lot to discuss. i want to thank you, madam secretary, for being here. i know it is not the most pleasant thing you can do, but the fact of the matter is that these are the jinnah questions that have to be answered by you and others in charge of these programs. i have not even gone into -- i expect he will be able to get this -- the i.t. problems solved , the information technology problems solved. that does not even begin to answer the questions about why small businesses are now -- will not employ more than 49 people because they trigger a huge, huge expense under this -- i think very poorly thought out plan to begin with. >> thank you, senator. secretary sibelius, thank you madam secretary for appearing
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today. i appreciate your taking time to explain what is going on here. obviously your statement will be included in the record. you know the drill. take as long as you want to summarize, this is a very important matter. tell us what you want to say. >> thank you, chairman, ranking members of the committee, i appreciate the opportunity to update the committee on the final implementation phase of the affordable care act. the law that passed both houses of congress was signed by the president and upheld by the supreme court and gives millions of americans an opportunity to obtain affordable health coverage. this is the first opportunity for many americans to get coverage, including people living in pain with chronic illnesses, young adults whose employers do not offer insurance , and parents struggling to keep up with mounting bills.
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in the last five weeks, access to has been a miserably frustrating experience for far too many of these americans. it is unacceptable and i am focused on fixing it and am accountable. i recognize that there is an even higher level of accountability. accountability to the sick, the vulnerable, the struggling americans who deserve better health care. the impact on the lives of everyday people is getting lost. i know this because i hear their stories cause a -- stories, as i am sure many of you do. we have a team of experts working on an aggressive schedule so that the consumer experience on the web gets better every day. as the chairman has said, by the end of november they are committed to having the site working smoothly for the vast majority of users. for we do not have is a fully functioning system yet that
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consumers need and deserve. we do have a plan in place to identify, prioritize, and manage the remaining axes across the system. we have reinforced our team with dozens of key personnel from the government and private sector, including respected engineers, technology managers, and software developers, designers and analysts from company like oracle and red hat. they are helping to diagnose problems and making quick decisions to analyze, troubleshoot, prioritize and resolve issues in real time. as this work continues we know that americans are shopping for plans, signing up and enrolling online on paper, on the phone, and in person. in fact, more than 2 million people have already called the call center with an average wait time of less than 30 seconds. i want to share with the committee a few indications of progress, what we have improved
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and what we intend to fix of the problems that remain. the two major areas of for -- of focus our performance dealing with speed and reliability, and functionality, fixing the bugs and other problems in the system . in the first few weeks after the launch of, users had to wait an average of eight seconds for pages to load, today takes typically less than a second. one month ago viewing the health land took minutes, today takes seconds. many consumers use to see a blank screen at the end of the application process. today they see if they are eligible for financial assistance, the next step in the process. users are receiving far fewer error messages and timeouts and are now able to process nearly 7000 registrants per hour with almost no errors. we have made more than a dozen additional fixes this weekend,
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allowing applications to be processed by additional insurers and allowing consumers to complete payments, approving the save and continue function, upgrading hardware so that the system can handle more users with greater stability. last night we installed more upgrades focusing on direct enrollment in improving the consumer experience. those upgrades will continue on an aggressive schedule between now and the end of november. we are making progress, but there is still a lot of work to do. some have asked -- why not just to delay implementation of the new law until all the problems are fixed? there is a pretty straightforward answer. delaying the affordable care act would not delay peoples cancer, diabetes, or parkinson's. it did not delay the need for dental health services or cholesterol screenings or prenatal health care.
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delaying the affordable care act does not allay the foreclosure notices for families forced into bankruptcy by unpayable medical bills. it does not delay the higher cost that all of us pay when uninsured americans are left with no choice but to rely on emergency rooms for care. for millions of americans, delays are not an option. people's lives depend on this. too many hard-working people have been waiting for to long for the ability to obtain affordable health insurance. we want to save families from going bankrupt, we want to save the lives for more of our friends and neighbors by allowing them to detect medical issues early. delay is not an option. we are still at the beginning of a six-month open enrollment that ends at the end of march. there is plenty of time to sign up for the new plan. i want to put this into perspective, mr. chairman. the average private insurance
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enrollment is about two weeks in a worksite. many public lands allow for four weeks of open enrollment. medicare, the yearly open enrollment that is underway right now is six weeks long. the new marketplace was specifically designed for a long open enrollment, 26 weeks. those who enroll by the 15th will be able to access their benefits on day one. i am accountable to this committee and to the american public for getting the fix is in place. we are committing -- committed to getting fixed so that millions of americans can get the financial and health security they have been waiting for. thank you, mr. chairman. >> thank you, you have addressed the principal question i was going to ask, namely that many people think the site should be shut down until it is totally fixed. i am going to ask that question. why keep limping along?
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why not just shut it down until it is put together the way it should be put together? many have pointed out that your fixes tend to have unintended consequences down the road. some other part of the system going into and after all the other fixes have been made. people ask why that has not happened. we also know that every day there is a story that someone did not get on, blank page, security problems, that is a bad media campaign. it is negative, does not hurt you, it -- it does not help you, it hurts you. why not have it shut down and just have one bad story and then for as long as it takes, a couple of weeks, go back and get that gateway up and running? you indicate that it delays health
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care for a lot of people and i appreciate that, but one more time, why not just get it done right? i have this series of rules in my office, i will not go through the rules, but one of them is do it now, the second one is do it right the first time. why not shut down and do it right? >> mr. chairman, i am relying on the advice not only of the inside team and contractors, but a lot of the outside experts who have come in to take a look at this system and they did a number of things along the way. they did a series of diagnostics, looked at the entire system and determined at the outset that is fixable, that it is not fatally flawed, which was the initial report from many people.
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secondly, we have asked that question a number of times. would it be helpful to take down the whole system and make fixes along the way? we have been advised that that actually does not help, that it is better to do routine operations, some of which are hot patches that can be done while the system is fully running and others are better to be done in the maintenance between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m., when the user experience is low and we take the system down for periods of time. but given the fact that the various fixes, various functionality fixes, the code, have to be written in batches, it has been advised that you do not gain much from taking the whole system down for a week or a couple of weeks, that it is better to do this on an ongoing basis. >> jeff science, who i think is
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somewhat in charge of fixing some of this as far as i can tell, says he has a punch list. and he is going to punch them out one by one. how many items are on that punch list? which of them have been punched out? when do you expect to do the end to end testing? >> jeff has come into help manage the operations between the contractors and the cms team and the aggressive fix schedules. he will be with us, hopefully, through this process. he has been enormously helpful in being a management lieutenant with maryland, the cms administrator. i would say that there are a couple of hundred functional fixes that have been identified.
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they are in priority grouping. the first series of them has been underway. it depends on the night. it is hard to give you a moment by moment snapshot. there was a number that were done last night, hardware, additional installations were done over the weekend. at 5:00 or 6:00 each day it is really identified whether or not the testing for the individual coding fix can be actually apply that night. the list changes, but mr. chairman we will get you an update and i would say that we are into the list and not where we need to be, but that it is a fairly aggressive schedule to get to the entire list. >> are you going to do an end to end?
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wax because the site is running, it is an to end daily. people are coming through every day and it helps to identify some of what we are seeing. what we are doing with live time and to end testing, we could go back and inform the tech team what needs to happen. >> speaking of, i want this to work. this is a two-way street, you have to tell us what is going on candidly, fully, so that we do not wake up in november and lo and behold are still not there yet. >> secretary, as you know, for months i have expressed concerns about the privacy and security controls that have been implemented in this federally facilitated marketplace. now we know that key officials in the administration knew that
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there were privacy and security risks as well as serious operational issues that might occur if the exchanges went live on october 1. yet a decision was still made not to delay the launch until those decisions -- issues were fully addressed. many people, including myself, called for an independent entity, like the government accountability office, to conduct an end to end review of the marketplace to ensure that the privacy and security patrols -- controls were in place. i have a number of questions each about knowing -- about proceeding even though you knew that these issues would occur. when did you find out about the potential security risk to users of the website, number one? >> sir, i would say the preliminary report -- >> so, in august.
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>> minor, g i o had identified that there risks -- that there were risks -- gao had identified that there were risks that we took seriously. >> who briefed you on the potential security risks if the launch moved forward as planned? did anyone a brief you on the security risks? >> we discussed security on a regular basis with the operations team, but no one suggested that the risks outweighed the importance of moving forward, including our independent evaluator, who made recommendations to cms as required. >> i have been suggesting that since april. you said you felt strongly that the launch needed to proceed on the first for the americans that did not have health insurance so that they could get coverage is
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soonest possible. how did you balance that need with the risk that those americans might then fall victim to identity theft or have their personal information compromised why security controls? -- by security controls? how did you balance that? >> i share your concerns about individual privacy. i would say that the site was developed with the highest standards in mind. it is certified by the federal standard and we took very seriously the information in the hub that was specifically designed so that the federal government was not storing privacy information and actually access other secure government websites, but we tried to store the minimum possible information. we do not collect personal
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health information. >> but you do collect numbers -- social security numbers. >> sir, we don't collect them. the hub is a router function that actually identifies social security numbers and verifies them with the administration, but that information is not kept and stored. >> do they not have to give their family income? like that is verified by the irs and homeland security. >> it is also on the hub. >> pinging the homeland security database, pinging the irs via best -- database, it is not storing unique information. >> what were the trade-offs with launching the exchange on the first rather than waiting until a later date? other pieces of the marketplace have been delayed through insufficient privacy and
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security controls. >> senator, again i would say that the standards that were set out for security controls were met. you mentioned end to end testing . there were features of the system that were loaded very close to the launch date. that is why, i think, the administrator chose to authorize a temporary authorization to operate and not a permanent, because you cannot permanently authorize an authorization until you have the entire system. we knew we had features in the system that we had chosen not to apply from the outset. the shopping feature, the spanish website, again those need to be tested before the system can be only authorized. >> can you tell the committee how many people signed up for health care under the current system? >> senator, we will have
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enrollment on -- enrollment numbers out next week. we are still working on particularly the 834's, the piece with insurers, we want to make sure that begin valid, accurate numbers. >> my time is up, mr. chairman. >> thank you, senator. madame secretary, a community meeting at home, oregonians tell me to do everything i can to stop what they see as ridiculous, petty bickering in washington and help to get results by working cooperatively. in that spirit, as i told you, i am going to pass this morning on the blame game and for a few minutes, for this moment, even, let's just say the democrats and republicans are going to try to find some real common ground on this. the affordable care act that we discussed today focuses on expanding coverage and financial
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help to those who cannot afford insurance and more private sector choices for patients. before the affordable care act, the last health care reform was the expansion of medicare to provide prescription drugs to american senior citizens. it was enacted during the bush administration and is known as medicare part d. like the affordable care act, is zeroed in on the same concerns, expanding coverage, expanding assistance to the needy with increased marketplace choices. medicare part d has been a huge success. anyone who doubts it ought to think about the terrific hearing the chairman had at the aging committee a few weeks ago where democrats and republicans all made the same point.
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the medicare prescription drug program has been a godsend to millions of seniors by offering lifesaving medicine. it has cost 30% less than the congressional budget office predicted. but the medicare prescription drug program, as you know, did not start out so hot. the reality of the first few months of that program was pretty much bedlam. i went back and looked at the newspapers from that time. i will just describe a few of the headlines. "glitches in drug plan upset seniors." "medicare drug program is a wasteful disaster." "medicare blunders become a monster." these headlines about the medicare prescription drug program that democrats and republicans now together say is
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a success, the headlines of the medicare prescription drug program are exactly the types of headlines that have been written about the affordable care act in recent weeks. fortunately the prescription drug program got fixed and they got the chance to get off the ground. if this had been repealed, millions of seniors today would not have access to life-saving drugs. not a single member of this committee wants that. so, my question to you is -- what, in your view, madam secretary, could democratic and republican senators here on the finance committee do to make the latest health reforms the success, the way the medicare prescription drug program has been? >> senator, i think it is always welcome to have elected officials in their home state give information to constituents
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about what the law says, what their options are, what choices they have and access the process . that would be enormously helpful. particularly to constituents who may not be web savvy. who may not know about the law, linna be following this, but definitely need the benefits. i do feel that there is no excuse for what has been a miserable five weeks. i am committed to the fix of the website, on the other hand i know the people are using it every day and that the experience is getting better every day, so i am again encouraging the folks to use the website, use the call center, enroll in person and in the
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health center, find a navigator in the webs -- in the neighborhood, it is inordinately helpful. we would love to work with the committee on the issues that look down the road. not just that the marketplace that we were talking about, but really the impact of having the opportunity to look at delivery system changes. 'system changes. i noted the committee just came up with a bipartisan proposal around a huge issue for medicare seniors, looking at those kinds of frameworks that actually encourage higher value lower- cost care as we move forward with more americans insured. i think that is one effort that should have a lot of bipartisan support. i would be encouraged, as you know, the affordable care act has a lot of features to deliver that -- the deal with sets of
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values for the medical dollars we are spending and how access to preventative care could actually change health profiles for millions of americans. those kinds of opportunities that are here -- >> >> thank you very much, [captioning performed by national captioning institute] >> there is no question that this website has to get fixed and no way to express the frustration. i want to address the affordable insurance that is out there and the response that the public has had wanting to get on the website, get information because they need heat -- need health care and health insurance. because of the time i want to move quickly, ask you a few questions, if you can do yes or


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